A Family Circus Christmas (1979)

family circus christmas poster 1979 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 4/10

Descent story

Bad art and voice work

TV Show Info

TV Show Name:  A Family Circus Christmas

Studio: Cullen-Kasdan Productions/Kubiak-West Entertainment

Genre(s):  Animated/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  December 18, 1979

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

family circus jeffy santa claus

Like can’t I have a coat or something Santa?

The star made by Grandfather is missing, and Daddy is sad.  When Jeffy wishes for Santa Claus to bring his grandfather back from Heaven for Christmas, Billy tells him that it is impossible.  As Christmas rapidly approaches, Jeffy dreams might be dashed if Santa Claus doesn’t come through.

Directed by Al Couzel, A Family Circus Christmas is a family animated holiday special.  The cartoon is based on the popular comic strip Bil Keane which began in 1960.  Following A Special Valentine with the Family Circus in 1978, it first aired on December 18, 1979 on NBC.

A Family Circus Christmas aired when many shows and cartoons would put out a Christmas special.  I can remember it airing when I was young and it can be found floating around the internet world.  Like many Family Circus comic strips, it bases much of the show’s feel on sentiment and “real family” feelings surrounding the holiday.

family circus christmas grandpa star jeffy daddy

Daddy…your Dad’s star looks kind of tacky….

Bil Keane based a lot of his stuff after his real family and his children.  Many of the jokes (one-liners in particular) come directly from Family Circus strips.  I always felt that the parents in Family Circus did feel more “real” than other cartoon parents and that they were often exasperated with their kids as much as they were happy with them (and it is even seen here).

The idea of the star and the Santa is actually quite thought out.  Keane always had invisible people like the Santa or the grandparents watching over the family.  Instead of writing himself into a corner, the story manages to “deliver” grandpa on Christmas instead of a lesson on how Santa isn’t real or being over sentimental (like A Very Brady Christmas).

family circus christmas ending tree star

All worship the Christmas tree or feel God’s wrath!!!

A sad aspect of this special is a rather poor animation job and awful voice acting.  There was big money and viewership in Christmas special (especially pre-internet and cable), and everyone wanted to be the next Charlie Brown Christmas.  It feels like it was really thrown together and looks rather cheap.  I think if it was even cleaned up for a modern release, that it wouldn’t look great.  It is just that low budget.

A Family Circus Christmas doesn’t have the best animation, but it is short and sweet and to the point.  If you have a chance to check it out, it isn’t the worst thing you’ll ever see.  A Family Circus Christmas was followed by A Family Circus Easter in 1982.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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